HOUSE OPENS DEBATE ON CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM

Outcome Could Affect Political Advertising Spending

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WASHINGTON (AdAge.com) -- Debate began today on the floor of the House of Representatives over changes to campaign finance reform legislation.

The quick debate and vote on this issue could alter the prospects for campaign advertising spending. The voting comes as a result of an unusual bipartisan petition by House members to discharge the measure from committees.

The legislation,

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which is sponsored by U.S. Reps. Christopher Shays, R.-Conn., and Marty Meehan, D-Mass., is similar to McCain-Feingold bill approved by the Senate a year ago. (The Senate bill's sponsors are Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis.)

"This is Swiss cheese. It is full of holes. It's like fine wine that doesn't get better, it just rots," said House Majority Whip Tom DeLay, R-Texas, who with Republican leaders and the Bush White House are opposing the changes.

Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Calif., however, said passage of reform is important. "The eyes of the nation are upon us."

U.S. Rep. Jim Davis, D-Fla., said campaign finance reform "will reduce the amount of money [that] has affected and infected politics."

The House is slated to consider several different alternatives to campaign finance reform and numerous amendments that would alter or eliminate sections of proposed legislation.

Proposals would limit the raising of soft money; set the maximum rate broadcasters could charge for political ads close to the election; and alter disclosure requirements for campaign contributions.

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